Evidence Management in Company Investigation
Considering that evidence is usually a tangible thing it can also be lost on account of being tampered or destroyed. By the time that the company needs the evidence to support its position it is not available anymore.
So, what should the company do to preserve the evidence once there is an act warranting company investigation? Depending on the nature of violation management of evidence may be preserved in accordance with the appropriate period.
For instance, when the act involves an act where there is no documentary evidence involved, pictures, testimony, or video recording should be taken immediately. Hence, cases like fighting inside company premises, infliction of physical harm, verbal abuse, etc., may require the immediate taking of evidence.
Usually, CCTV footages are only good for a few days or weeks, depending on the settings made by the person in charge. Thus, HR should be mindful of the passage of time and obtain the clip before it gets erased to make room for new recordings. For video footages taken by witnesses, HR should conduct inquiry immediately as to who were able to obtain the records when the incident happened. Copies must immediately be made by HR.
These pieces of evidence can be easily deleted from someone’s phone or corrupted. Hence, preservation is
the first thing that should come to mind when HR becomes aware of such footage. Will this not violate the Data Privacy Law? No, if the incident is capture within the premises of the company. Better still if all employees, in the contracts or in the written policies are aware that the entire premises of the company are exclusively owned by it and employees cannot expect absolute privacy. The best practice is to include this in the waiver or consent on the data privacy.
Documentary evidence is usually one that proceeds from hard copies, pictures, sheets, or printouts of computer data. These pieces of evidence usually survive for a long time if free from any tampering or alteration. However, once malicious manipulation occurs these documents become useless in whole or in part if not totally destroyed.
Hence, HR should be aware that if the offense committed involves documentary records, proper preservation of these pieces of evidence should be made. HR should investigate the records subject of the offense and get the audit and administration involved in the search and preservation efforts.
Employees involved in the irregularity may be preventively suspended to prevent them from tampering with evidence, harassing witnesses, and confusing the investigation efforts.
In this website, there are a lot of sample notices imposing preventive suspension and several other forms that may help in moving forward with administrative investigation.